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Sophia Burset

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Sophia Burset is a transgender inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary who works as the prison's hairdresser, only rivaled by other hairstylist Denita. She is portrayed by actress Laverne Cox. She is currently serving her time at the SHU.

Personality Edit

Sophia is a friendly person in general, and enjoys doing her makeup and fixing inmates' hair. She stands by her beliefs and is stubborn to get what she wants.

She is seen to be very saddened when she starts to suffer transphobic abuse, as she thought she was "one of the girls" and is shocked about how quickly that can change.

She befriended Sister Ingalls initially to try and get some of her HRT when her hormone medication was reduced. However, the two developed a closer friendship after Ingalls told Sophia she knew her game and wouldn't be giving her any of her meds.

Physical AppearanceEdit

Sophia is tall, brown skinned, and wears a light chestnut wig. She is always done up nicely and wears lipstick.


Before Litchfield Edit

For a list of episodes featuring Sophia's flashbacks, see here.
M. lamar

M. Lamar as Sophia pre-transition (Marcus) in "Lesbian Request Denied".

Before transitioning, Sophia was a firefighter named Marcus and was married to Crystal, with whom she had a son, Michael. To pay for her sex-reassignment operations, she stole credit cards, boosting them to finance her surgeries. Throughout the entire process, her unknowing wife stuck by her, but Michael had difficulty accepting that his biological father was transgender and decided to get back at her by informing the police of her crime.

Season One Edit

Sophia is first seen in "I Wasn't Ready", where she compliments Piper's hair and tells her to come by Sophia's salon when she needs her roots doing. In "Tit Punch", Piper manages to trade some of Sophia's shea butter for a lock of her own hair, which Sophia weaves into Taystee's hair. The shea butter is one of the ingredients that Piper uses to create a painkilling balm for Red's back, thus ending her starvation punishment for insulting Red's food.


Sophia has to contend with being the only trans woman in the prison and bearing the brunt of all the transphobia directed at her by both inmates and staff.

Sophia appears to have an ongoing rivalry with Denita, who also runs a hair salon at Litchfield.

It's revealed that she had been in Litchfield for 2 years prior to Season 2.

Season Two Edit

Sophia applied for furlough when her father had a lung transplant that didn't take. Sophia had a very distant relationship with her father after her transition, but when he started dying, he began to accept her and even called her his daughter ("Appropriately Sized Pots").

Season Three Edit

Throughout much of the season Sophia and Gloria feel the helplessness that comes with being a mother behind bars, and Gloria asks Sophia if Crystal can give her son, Benny, rides up to the prison. Shortly after, Sophia's son Michael starts swearing, acting belligerently and getting into fights, which causes Sophia to blame his actions on Benny being a bad influence. Angered, Sophia retracts the offer to give Benny rides to the prison. It's later revealed that the bad behavior was Michael's doing, not Benny's, which just causes tempers to flare even more between Sophia and Gloria. A verbal altercation in the bathroom culminates with Sophia shoving Gloria into a wall, which gives her a black eye. Sophia appears to be genuinely sorry, but does not apologise to Gloria either for the shove or for the fact that she was wrong about the situation between Michael and Benny. Their fight leads to Aleida spreading transphobic rumors about Sophia, causing Sophia's salon to be boycotted and leading to her being harassed and attacked by a number of inmates. Gloria is seen to be remorseful about the situation and is angry at Aleida's actions.

IMG 8278

Sophia, last seen in the SHU at the end of Don't Make Me Come Back There

Due to the situation, Sophia threatens to sue Litchfield for low security and control. This blows up in her face, however, when she is sent to the SHU for "her own protection". This is ordered by MCC, not Caputo, who sees the unfairness of the situation and tries his best to get Sophia out of the SHU, but is unsuccessful.

At the end of Season Three, Sophia is still in the SHU being treated exactly like the other inmates, despite the fact that she is ostensibly there for "protection".


Caputo looking at Sophia in the SHU

Season Four Edit

As seen in the Season 4 Trailer, Sophia is seen still in the SHU, having let down her appearance and taken off her weave.


Relationships Edit

Family Edit

Friends Edit

Enemies Edit

Memorable QuotesEdit

"You have some fucked up priorities."
— Sophia Burset
"I can take good care of you... but even if you don't go to me, don't go to Danita! She will burn the shit out of your scalp."
— Sophia Burset
"Human beings aren't supposed to live like this."
— Sophia Burset
"Holy shit. I look hot."
— Sophia Burset
"I don't do sausage on my breakfast sandwich."
— Sophia Burset
"I knew them bitches was lying when they said you left here looking like Omar from The Wire."
— Sophia Burset
"'Please' is for commissary hoes and Oliver Twist."
— Sophia Burset
"If I would've seen him, I don't know, may have felt like closure. But we don't get a lot of that in this life now, do we."
— Sophia Burset


Season 1Edit

Promotional PicturesEdit

Season 2Edit

Promotional PicturesEdit


Sophia1 Sophia3 Sophia4 Sophia5
Sophia6 Sophia7
Sophia8 Sophia9

Trivia: Edit

  • Sophia's character is based on a real transgender inmate in Piper Kermans book named Vanessa, however Kerman changed her name to Vanessa to protect her identity.
  • Pre-transition Sophia (Marcus) was played by Cox's twin brother M. Lamar. 

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